This Jewelry Designer Lives in a School Bus in Washington State

This jewelry designer lives in a school bus in Washington State!

This Jewelry Designer Lives in a School Bus in Washington State!

Meet Bethel, 

Our School Bus Tiny Home and Workshop

She's always a work in progress....

My partner and I both had dreams of having a tiny home, a simple living space that we could call ours. We also both had dreams of converting a school bus. A skoolie lifestyle, complete with solar panels, a composting toilet, a roof deck?!
Sounds like we might be made for each other, huh?
 
My partner Ryan and I bought our Skoolie, Bethel, in January 2018. 
She’s an old school beauty, the journey from American school bus to cozy living quarters has been quite the adventure during the last few years. 
When we brought Bethel home, she still had all the bells and whistles of an American school bus, a bright-yellow paint job, with rows and rows of heavy-duty leather seats inside, emergency doors, ribbed flooring, a stop sign, and old windows that were stuck closed.
You get the picture – we had our work cut out for us. 
We began demolition of our bus almost immediately that winter. We donned our hazmat suits and face masks and got straight to work.
 
school bus build
Dressed like the ghostbusters, we began to gut the bus entirely. We discovered pretty quickly, that this was going to be a tough bus build. The first winter, we took out the seats, floor, walls, ceiling, you name it, we gutted it. The seat removal was one of the toughest parts. 
Bethel was stripped back to her metal frame and ready for some tender, loving care.
 
skoolie build
 
With Bethel completely empty and stripped back, we started to build the framing for what would become our new hardwood floor. At this time, initial insulation and a plywood subfloor were added in as well.  
school bus repurposed gym flooring
By the way, when I say we – I mean mostly my partner Ryan. I was still fresh out of brain surgery and recovering through the beginning of 2018. So a lot of my time was spent designing and supervising the demolition and framework build. It took me 3 or 4 months to recover enough to help out. After a time I became much more useful, and have done a lot of the finishing work in the bus.
school bus wood flooring
We went on throughout the year removing emergency doors, windows, and roof hatches of our tiny home. All to make way for new walls, skylights, and a beautiful wooden door to replace the classic pop-out school bus entrance. 
 
skoolie paint job
Later, in 2019, we fashioned Bethel with a crisp white paint job on the outside and purchased gorgeous Maple wood flooring for the whole of the inside. The flooring was an awesome find from ‘Second Use Building Materials’ in Tacoma, WA. In the flooring’s previous life, it was a basketball court in an old school gym, how cool?! It was a pain to take apart, however, once we sent the wood through a planer, the beautiful wood grain was revealed.
school bus living
 
Skoolie Walls
Once our outlets and wiring were in for our electric, the walls and ceiling were dressed with repurposed Cedar wood – also from thrift store in Lynwood, WA. I am proud to say we bought this wood 1/2 price and spent under $250 for all of our walls.
 
Skoolie Flooring
2020 had been focused on building out our bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, we completed the lighting in our ceiling, rebuilt the dash area, and invited a stunning Live Edge Madrone for the dining bar. 
Our bathroom is made with pebble tile walls, slate tile flooring, and a Nature's Head composting toilet!
The interior of our school bus conversion and studio is fully livable now! We’d slept on our mattress in the living room for the first year or more… but we now have a real bedroom with all the home comforts. We even splurged a little and decided to get a TV for our living room as we like to watch our favorite shows before bed.
 
school bus kitchen
Our school bus is fully equipped with a practical kitchen, with a completely handmade counter top, large pantry, big hammered copper sink, a propane gas oven and pull out drawers for our spices.
 
We also have a very functioning bathroom, wood stove fireplace, as well as a creative studio and workbench space where I create all things precious for Woodland Metalsmith
 
skoolie kitchen

We purchased land in October 2020, where we now live in Bethel and have roots down in Washington. We live on 2.5 forested acres, have a 2500 gallon water tank, two solar set ups and a wood stove as our heat source. Bethel is cozy and after over 5 years of living in this bus, we have become quite comfortable in our space.
Now that we live on our property in Quilcene, we plan to add siding to Bethel, and lots of other fun projects to make her look more like a tiny home on the outside.
Thanks for getting to know Bethel! 

 

 


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